In the world of right-wing politics circa 2022, “toughness” and constantly attacking anyone who mildly critiques you are hallmarks of this era. With Florida Governor Ron DeSantis superseding former President Donald Trump as the leader of the national GOP, if anything the nastiness has gotten even harsher.
The recent spat between Archbishop of Miami Thomas Wenski and the DeSantis Administration has left a sour taste in my mouth – Archbishop Wenski, a native of Lake Worth has been an indispensable religious leader in this state and even gave an invocation one night at the Republican National Convention which nominated John McCain.
Archbishop Wenski has for months been taking on the recent DeSantis demagoguery on illegal immigration (something the Governor loves to talk up on FOX News) and decrying the treatment of children as political pawns by anti-immigration demagogues.
I don’t want to chronicle the back-and-forth between the Archbishop and various DeSantis allies, some like Spokesperson Christina Pushaw acting in an official capacity. But it all seems in very poor taste.
The view of some is if religious leaders step into the political arena they should expect to clapped back at – but my view which is similar to my anger at the DeSantis teams’ attacks on Dr. Anthony Fauci is that their is a CLEAR difference between elected officials and public servants or religious leaders. DeSantis is free to call Joe Biden whatever name he wants to and market beer koozies attacking him and having his spokesperson say Biden committed a sin by lying or whatever.
It’s okay to question these non-elected leaders but to drag them through the mud the way you would a political person, just shows how devoid of compassion and nuance much of the right has become. To them, anyone who authoritative and has a contrasting view must be torn down personally and discredited at all costs.
Time and again we see the right attacking experts and those like Fauci and Archbishop Wenski who have served the public in some capacity for decades, without seeking elected office. It’s no accident political conservatives in US seem to have some sort real venom toward Pope Francis but embrace the likes of Paula White.
When it comes down to it, the only religious leaders the political right really respect are those leaders of the grifting megachurches they’ve made common cause with since the 1970’s, those religious “institutions” that unlike the Catholic Church don’t have a hierarchy or require long-term studies in a seminary. Even though the Catholic Church has aligned with the GOP on the issue of reproductive rights, on many other issues (including masking & vaccines in many cases) the Catholic Church leadership is out of step with Florida Republicans.
I could go on and on regarding this, but liked the statement that Florida Democrats Chairman Manny Diaz put out, so I will close with his statement. It sums up my thoughts very well.
“I am appalled, but not surprised, that Gov. DeSantis and his administration had the gall to call Archbishop Wenski a liar. When my family immigrated to the United States from Communist Cuba, we were welcomed with open arms by many, including the Catholic Church. The Church, along with numerous other religious institutions, have always played an integral role in supporting immigrants, especially children. I applaud Archbishop Wenski for standing up for unaccompanied children as the Governor turns his back on them. Governor DeSantis must apologize to Archbishop Wenski and reverse this cruel and counterproductive policy. Governor DeSantis, who touts himself as a man of faith, should know better. Yet again, Governor DeSantis puts politics before people.”Florida Democrats Chairman Manny Diaz